WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - A small group of protesters decried male circumcision in a roadside demonstration at the corner of Independence Blvd. and Oleander Dr. in Wilmington on Saturday afternoon.
"Everybody has a right to their own body," said protester Harry Guiremand. "It's illegal to cut girls. Boys are entitled to the same protection."
The protesting group is called Bloodstained Men & Their Friends. Wearing white clothing with red paint in the genital area, the men waved signs at passing cars and spoke with people walking by.
A few people not in the group from the Wilmington area joined the protest with their own signs.
The group's mission is "giving victims of genital cutting a voice and educating Americans about the harms of infant circumcision and the importance of the foreskin," according to their Facebook page.
"I personally was damaged by circumcision, and I am aware of the damage," said Guiremand. "A lot of cut men don't realize they were harmed, but when you realize an important part of your body was taken from you, you get angry and you want to do something to stop it."
Wilmington is the group's eighth stop in its 18-city protest circuit in North and South Carolina.
Bloodstained Men lists 16 functions of the foreskin on its website.
"They fall into three major categories: sexual, protective, and, immunological," said Guiremand.
The American Academy of Pediatrics' stance is that circumcision's health benefits outweigh the risks but are not great enough to recommend male newborn circumcision for everyone.
"Benefits include significant reductions in the risk of urinary tract infection in the first year of life and, subsequently, in the risk of heterosexual acquisition of HIV and the transmission of other sexually transmitted infections," according to a medical task force on circumcision scientific report.
"Parents ultimately should decide whether circumcision is in the best interests of their male child. They will need to weigh medical information in the context of their own religious, ethical, and cultural beliefs and practices. The medical benefits alone may not outweigh these other considerations for individual families," the report reads.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also takes a nuanced stance on the circumcision debate.
"Such decision-making is made in the context of not only health considerations, but also other social, cultural, ethical, and religious factors," the CDC statement reads. "Although data have been accumulating about infant male circumcision for many years, clinical trials conducted between 2005–2010 have demonstrated safety and significant efficacy of voluntary adult male circumcision performed by clinicians for reducing the risk of acquisition of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) by a male during penile-vaginal sex ("heterosexual sex")."
"Most of the pleasure-sensing nerves in the penis are in the foreskin," said Guiremand. "The rest of the world has abandoned this practice. It's painful it's harmful, and it causes lifelong damage."